PDP governors insist Sheriff is out, supporters fight with machetes


The battle for the control of the national secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) became fiercer yesterday.
Two groups of protesting youths ‎were locked in a physical battle during which machetes, sticks and other dangerous weapons were freely deployed.
Meanwhile, the PDP has told a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt that its former acting national chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff, was validly removed by the legally constituted May 21, 2016 national convention of the party in Port Harcourt.
It also maintained that the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee was duly appointed in line with the constitution of the party.
The party made the assertions during the hearing of its suit at the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Abdullahi yesterday.
Defendants in the suit are Sheriff, Prof. Adewole Oladipo (sued as themselves and as representing national officers ), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the State Security Service.
First to arrive for the continuing battle for the secretariat was the pro-Makarfi group of youths about 9:30 a.m., only for the pro-Sheriff group to arrive shortly after.
The two opposing groups were ‎peacefully trying to sing louder than each other when suddenly the youths supporting Sheriff approached the gate in front of which the pro-Makarfi youths had been staying.
For five minutes, serious fighting ensued during which machetes and cudgels were deployed. Then the pro-Markafi youths got the upper hand, chasing their pro-Sheriff opponents out of the secretariat.
Meanwhile, Sheriff has called off the earlier ‎press conference he had planned to address at the national secretariat. His media assistant, Inuwa Bwala, said he had another meeting but gave no details .
Over a dozen plainclothes officers had taken positions within the secretariat premises, though it could not be confirmed the person they were there to protect.
The forum of PDP governors rose from a meeting in the early hours of yesterday justifying the removal of Sheriff as national chairman of the party.
Briefing journalists on the outcome of the meeting the governors held with the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) ‎and National Assembly Caucus, Governor Ayo Fayose declared that the meeting advised the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to stay away from the internal crisis of the PDP.

He said :”Rising from the meeting, we must put it in the public domain that the PDP, whatever we are going through today is a phase and very soon the whole issue will be over. But we need to put it very clearly that Nigeria as a country needs an opposition party to make the average Nigerian get value for his votes. Any attempt to destroy opposition in Nigeria is not going to be in the interest of democracy.”
On the alleged interference by the Federal Government in the crisis, Fayose ‎stated: “We stand as a party to condemn interference and strategic effort to destroy PDP in Nigeria.